By Minista Paul Scott
"Shots go off mothers cry, death since rise, homicide Black On Black crime needs to stop, Ya'll can't blame it on Hip Hop" -- The Industry -Wyclef Jean
I could tell by the way the media were pumpin' up the Cam'ron 60 minutes interview days prior to the airing that this wasn't going to be one of Hip Hop's stellar moments.
With Hip Hop already under fire in the Don Imus aftermath, which was only eclipsed by the VA Tech murders, America needed a new bad guy; a Hip Hop Hitler to point to as the source of all of America's problems...Enter Cameron Giles.....
Let's face it. It was ill advised, (or for the less politically suave, down right dumb) for Cam to say that he wouldn't turn in a serial killer livin' in the crib next to his, while Ethel Lou in Topeka was still shook from the story about the Virginia Tech shooter.
However, in reality it was a set up that stank to high heaven. White America needed a new mainstream poster child to blame for the deterioration of America's moral values and Cam'ron gave it to them, signed, sealed delivered and decorated with a golden eagle medallion.
Historically, America has always needed a black boogey man, a sacrificial lamb on whose back all the sins of the world could be placed.
If you look back at the Civil Rights Era, when Rev. Martin Luther King was leading his march to bring attention to racial/economic injustice in Memphis, the media focus was not on the smooth talkin' dude in the nice suit but on a gang of paid off ruffians called the Invaders who allegedly wrecked havoc on innocent bystanders. This served as evidence that segregation was indeed justified because Black folks were not quite civilized enough to eat a hot stack of pancakes at Howard Johnson's.
Things became increasingly worst in the late 80's as white folks went from trying to segregate a swimming pool to trying to segregate an entire ocean at Virginia Beach. The cause of the of problem was not discrimination. No, according to the press, the real problem was that black college kids were shattering the plaster in Biff and Britney's summer cottage with their darn "ghetto" blasters...
During the early 90's, I remember how the video tape of Rodney King being brutalized by the LAPD was replaced by Reginald Denny getting a mediaeval beat down by a four man army of "street thugs." And no, the "rioters" in LA were not making political statements about systematic socio-economic inequalities, they were just monsters on a blood thirsty rampage fueled by NWA lyrics and St. Ides Malt Liquor.
Things have remained the same in the 21st century. Back in 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the questions about broken levees and government coverups were drowned out by America's outrage over black thugz stealing wide screen TV sets from washed out department stores. And since they didn't have any electricity the thugz spent their afternoons target practicing at helicopters that were trying to deliver food and medical supplies to storm victims.
For those with long term memory disorders, they need only think back to last winter when the outrage over Michael "Kramer" Richards dropping all those N bombs quickly switched to a national debate over why Black folks call their homies the "N" word.
This brings us to the Imus "nappy headed ho" fiasco, where the news clips of a deranged looking cowboy who looked like he had one too many shots of Jack Daniels were replaced with clips of Snoop Dogg giving his deep intellectual insight into the various degrees of "ho-ism"
So that brings us up to 4/22/07 and the Cam interview, where the talking heads have just discovered that not only don't rappers "love dem ho's" they ain't got no love for the Po Po's either. What is odd is that they did not once mention that the genesis of the distrust of the police is not based on a rap lyric but rooted in decades of Jim Crow-isms, COINTELPRO and numerous cases of mistaken identity and driving while black. Did they once mention that the Sean Bell shooting was maybe just enough to make Black folks believe that the Officer Friendly from their kindergarten coloring books, wasn't so friendly after all?
Although Hip Hop has been pretty resilient over the years as it has been a consistent cheddar producing cash cow for phat cats from Park Ave to Rodeo Drive, based on the current political climate as Moe Dee told LL back in tha Day "this be the death blow."
Now, I am far from a Hip Hop apologist but I know a set up when I see one. And you can best believe that the "Hip Hop" question will be the source of endless political debates between now and the next election.
What America will never admit is that ultimately, Hip Hop is not the problem, racism is. And if you get rid of racism today, the "N" word and all things associated would be gone tomorrow.
To portray all Hip Hop artists as members of some Third Reich is ludicrous. Although some of the major record label owners may bear some resemblance to the evil master of propaganda, Adolf Hitler, "da 50 Cent" is not "der Fuhrer."